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Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience

Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience



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Published by Ian Martinez
Position paper on the Reproductive Health Bill
by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University.

This is a very interesting read. A must for Catholics who can't seem to make up their mind with regards the Reproductive Health Care Bill.

Well researched (you can't expect anything less from Ateneo People you know) and nicely argued on a Catholic standpoint.
Position paper on the Reproductive Health Bill
by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University.

This is a very interesting read. A must for Catholics who can't seem to make up their mind with regards the Reproductive Health Care Bill.

Well researched (you can't expect anything less from Ateneo People you know) and nicely argued on a Catholic standpoint.

More info:

Published by: Ian Martinez on Oct 25, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CATHOLICS CAN SUPPORT THE RH BILL IN GOOD CONSCIENCE(Position paper on the Reproductive Health Billby individual faculty
of the Ateneo de Manila University)
(Note: The opinions expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of other faculty. Neither do they represent the official position of  the Ateneo de Manila University nor the Society of Jesus.)
We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, call for the immediatepassage of House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development” (hereafterRH Bill) in Congress. After examining it in the light of Philippine social realities, and informedby our Christian faith, we have reached the conclusion that our country urgently needs acomprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development, asprovided by the RH Bill. We also believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principlesof Catholic social teaching: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of the human person, thepreferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development, human rights, andthe primacy of conscience.Catholic social theology since Vatican II has evolved, on the one hand, from theemphasis on order, social cohesiveness, the acceptance of some inequality, and obedience toauthority
to the recognition, on the other, of the centrality of the human person, and theconcomitant need for human freedom, equality, and participation (
Pacem in Terris
Octogesima Adveniens
1971). In the same way that Vatican II was a council for
 (renewal) for the universal Church, so too did the 1991 Second Plenary Council of thePhilippines (PCP-II) aim at the renewal of the Church in the Philippines. After a month of collectively studying and praying to discern the “signs of the times,” PCP-II declared: “As weapproach the year 2000, Christ bids this community
ourselves, the laity, religious and clergy of the Catholic Church in the Philippines
to be a Church of the Poor” (PCP-II Acts, no. 96).As Catholics and Filipinos, we share the hope and mission of building a Church of thePoor. We are thus deeply disturbed and saddened by calls made by some members of theCatholic Church to reject a proposed legislation that promises to improve the wellbeing of Filipino families, especially the lives of women, children, adolescents, and the poor. Being a“Church of the Poor” urges us to be with and listen to the poor, so that their “joys and hopes...griefs and anxieties” become ours as well (
Gaudium et Spes
1965, no. 1). We therefore ask thosewho denounce the RH Bill as “pro-abortion,” “anti-life,” “anti-women,” “anti-poor,” and“immoral” to consider the economic and social conditions of our people, as borne out byempirical evidence, and to recognize that the bill is, in fact, “pro-life,” “pro-women,” and “pro-poor.”
Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies), Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology),Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology), Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics), Remmon E.Barbaza (Department of Philosophy), Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy), Elizabeth Uy Eviota(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology), Anne Marie A. Karaos(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology), Liza L. Lim(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology), Mary Racelis(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), and Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)
Catholics can support the RH Bill in good conscience: Position paper on the RH Bill
2The Realities of Women and Their ChildrenNo woman should die giving life. Yet, in the Philippines, 10 women die every 24 hoursfrom almost entirely preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth (POPCOM 2000).Our maternal mortality rate continues to be staggeringly high, at 162 maternal deaths for every100,000 live births (National Statistics Office (NSO), 2006 Family Planning Survey (FPS)).More lives would certainly be saved if all women had access to good prenatal, delivery, andpostpartum care.The reality, however, is that 3 out of 10 Filipino women do not have the recommendednumber of prenatal care visits (at least 4); and 6 out of 10 women still deliver at home, wherethey rarely have access to a skilled birth attendant, or to quality obstetric services in casecomplications arise (NSO and ORC Macro 2004, 2003 National Demographic and HealthSurvey (NDHS)). Moreover, because a woman’s life and wellbeing are inextricably linked tothat of her child’s, it is not surprising that the country’s infant mortality and under-five mortalityratios remain also worrisome: for every 1,000 live births, 24 children die before they reach theage of one, and 32 children die before they reach the age of five (NSO, 2006 FPS).Aside from poor maternal care, our alarming maternal mortality rate also stems from thehigh incidence of induced abortions. The silence on this topic shrouds the tragedy of manyFilipino women who have resorted to it in desperation. An estimated 473,400 women hadinduced abortions in 2000, translating to an abortion rate of 27 abortions per 1,000 women aged14-44, and an abortion ratio of 18 abortions per 100 pregnancies (Juarez, Cabigon, Singh andHussain 2005). Abortion not only terminates the life of an unborn child but also imperils the lifeof the mother, especially if performed in unsafe clandestine clinics by untrained personnel, orinduced by the woman herself, as is the case of poor women who cannot afford a surgicalabortion, or the services of a traditional practitioner (
). Of the nearly half a million womenwho had abortions in 2000, 79,000, or 17 percent, wound up in hospitals as a result of abortioncomplications (ibid.). Induced abortions accounted for 12 percent of all maternal deaths in thePhilippines in 1994 (ibid.), and is the fourth leading cause of maternal deaths.Studies show that the majority of women who go for an abortion are married or in aconsensual union (91%), the mother of three or more children (57%), and poor (68%) (Juarez,Cabigon, and Singh 2005). For these women, terminating a pregnancy is an anguished choicethey make in the face of severe contraints. When women who had attempted an abortion wereasked their reasons for doing so, their top three responses were: they could not afford theeconomic cost of raising another child (72%); their pregnancy occurred too soon after the lastone (57%); and they already have enough children (54%). One in ten women (13%) who hadattempted an abortion revealed that this was because her pregnancy resulted from forced sex(ibid.). Thus, for these women,
abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted  pregnancy
. The fact is, our women are having more children than they desire, as seen in the gapbetween desired fertility (2.5 children) and actual fertility (3.5 children), implying a significantunmet need for reproductive health services (NSO and ORC Macro 2004, 2003 NDHS)
Catholics can support the RH Bill in good conscience: Position paper on the RH Bill
3The importance of family planning to the lives of women and their children cannot beemphasized enough. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA n.d.) asserts that women’saccess to effective contraception would avert 30 percent of maternal deaths, 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities, and 20 percent of child deaths. In the Philippines,however, women sorely lack adequate access to integrated reproductive health services. Thisstems mainly from an inconsistent national population policy which has always been dependenton the incumbent leader. For example, studies have pointed out that former President Fidel V.Ramos and then Health Secretary Juan Flavier showed strong support for family planninginitiatives. In contrast, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appears to have an incoherentnational population policy, because while she recognizes the need to reduce the country’spopulation growth rate, on the one hand, she relegates the responsibility of crafting, funding, andimplementing population and reproductive health programs to local government units (LGUs),on the other. Thus, we are witness to uneven reproductive health and family planning policiesand programs across LGUs: Whereas Aurora and the Mountain province, and Davao, Marikina,and Quezon Cities have put in place commendable RH policies and programs, a metropolitancity like Manila teeming with informal settlers had banned modern artificial methods of familyplanning under the administration of Mayor Joselito Atienza.From the foregoing, it is easy to understand why the contraceptive prevalence rate of thePhilippines is only 50.6 percent (NSO, 2006 FPS). This means that only a little over half of married women use any family planning (FP) method, whether traditional FP (14.8%), modernnatural or NFP (0.2%), or modern artificial FP (35.6%). And yet an overwhelming majority of Filipinos (92%) believe that it is important to manage fertility and plan their family, and most(89%) say that the government should provide budgetary support for modern artificial methodsof family planning, including the pill, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), condoms, ligation, andvasectomy (Pulse Asia, 2007 Ulat ng Bayan survey on family planning). In another survey, themajority (55%) of respondents said that they are willing to pay for the family planning method of their choice (Social Weather Stations, 2004 survey on family planning).The evidence is clear: Our women lack reproductive health care, including informationon and access to family planning methods of their choice. Births that are too frequent and spacedtoo closely take a delibitating toll on their health, so that many of them die during pregnancy orat childbirth. Some of them, despairing over yet another pregnancy, seek an abortion, from whichthey also die
and along with them, their unborn child too.The sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human personThe Catholic Church proclaims that every human person is created in the image andlikeness of God, as well as redeemed by Christ. Therefore, each person’s life and dignity issacred and must be respected. “Every violation of the personal dignity of the human being criesout in vengeance to God and is an offense against the creator of the individual,” according to
Christifideles Laici
(1988, no. 37). Indeed, we should measure every institution by whether itthreatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person
whether that individual is awoman agonizing over her ninth pregnancy, or an unborn child in a mother’s womb.

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